WSOP Build Up
As the World Series of Poker makes a start in Las Vegas, we’re taking a look back over a busy warming up period including recent live festivals, and some new, interesting deals making the headlines.
888 Poker Live Barcelona
During May, 888 Poker put together a magnificent festival in the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona. The week culminated in a popular main event victory for Luigi Shehadeh, a 23-year old Italian MTT grinder. Shehadeh travelled to Spain with his brother Fares, and put in a domineering performance, more than worthy of a champion, as he dealt with 608 competitors for a €115,000 prize.
American pro Cate Hall was heading the field as the finalists moved into the final day’s play, but eventually had to settle for fourth place. Massive motormouth, Will Kassouf, found his irritating speech play strategy wasn’t enough to earn him a place at the final table. The Annoying Englishman took the lead with the field down to 20 players, but soon found himself with only two blinds after calling a shove from Spaniard Marco Hakli with 77 and coming off worse to KJo.
Romanian Catalin Pop took down the High-Roller tournament, with 70 entrants. 888 Poker ambassador Dominik Nitsche narrowly missed out on a final table appearance with a ninth-place finish.
As it was, this was the only money placing by any brand ambassador present in Barcelona. Kara Scott, Natalie Hof, Bruno Kawauti, Nicolau Villa-Lobos, Sofia Lovgren, and Bruno Foster were also all playing the main event, but none of them managed to score.
888 Poker have been roundly praised for the show they put on. Lately, the live scene news has been all about Pokerstars and Partypoker fighting it out, but now 888 have thrown their hat into the ring as contenders for the greatest live festivals.
888 Poker has also announced that they will be sponsoring the WSOPC for another year, which now includes a stop in Argentina. Itai Pazner, 888 Holdings Senior Vice President said in a press release
"888poker is delighted to have renewed our WSOPC sponsorship for the second year running, as part of our ongoing mission to expand 888poker’s presence in the South American market. This renewed partnership is a testament to our increasingly dominant position in the industry and our commitment to making live poker accessible and affordable to as many players possible, the world over. We are very excited and proud to be bringing the most popular poker series in the world to the renowned Casino Iguazú, one of the most acclaimed casinos in South America. This is an amazing opportunity to be part of the world’s biggest and most prestigious live tournament, from as little as 1¢. I wish all our players the best of luck!"
Partypoker Live Million Germany
Michel Mrakes, from the Czech Republic, has won the Partypoker Live Million Germany main event, taking home a prize of €200,000. It’s been a successful few weeks for Mrakes who also won two minor WSOPC Brussels tournaments in May, and has now taken down the biggest prize of his short career; almost five times his second best score.
Although this was supposed to be a German event, it was decided to use the facilities just across the border at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Many different tours and events have made this a popular choice for a stop off over the past couple of years.
Partypoker ambassador, Natalia Breviglieri, managed to hang on for a sixth place finish. The Englishwoman had already won a charity event during the series, but couldn’t make it a double after starting the final table third in chips.
Partypoker was also keen to steal a little limelight away from the World Series of Poker, as the series was getting underway, with the announcement of a sponsorship deal with Dutch legend Marcel Luske. The Flying Dutchman joins an already star-studded roster of names, and will undoubtedly be one of the most popular signings we’ve seen.
Luske is currently undergoing legal action against his former employers Pokerstars. He famously authored the International Poker Rules which were to be used by the company at their live events. Then out of the blue in 2013 Pokerstars announced that they were using their own framework of rules which just so happened to be identical to what Luske had written.
“Every single PSLive rule is an exact copy and/or derivative of language from the International Poker Rules the filing claims, which were then published, advertised, and adopted throughout the poker community.”
Luske alleges that Pokerstars reneged on an agreement to pay him $25,000 per year for using his rulebook, and is now seeking damages for fraud and breach of contract in a Nevada court.
Many readers will agree that this is a positive step for the poker community as customers steadily move away from Pokerstars, with 888 Poker and Partypoker leading the charge. Marcel Luske is a character who had been around the scene for many years, and knows exactly what is needed to get things done.
Tony G Returns Victoriously
Poker legend Tony G returned to action in the $25,000 buy in High Roller event at the Aria Casino, Las Vegas, after taking time out to further his political career. The loudmouth joined a long list of recognisable faces who were in town ready for the start of the World Series of Poker. The top prize was a whopping $353,280, but this was overshadowed by an act of great generosity when Tony handed over the entire amount to various US charities.
Antanas “Tony G” Guoga had not been seen on the circuit since he won his seat in the European Parliament in 2014, but couldn’t resist the trip to Las Vegas to soak up some of the pre-WSOP action. Guoga was recently reported as saying he was interested in playing some events in Sochi, Russia, but was unexpectedly banned from entering the country. This was more than likely due to his trolling of a Russian politician which was recorded and circulated online.